Retrenched Workers Deserve Priority


Labor’s Federal Illawarra MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, have today called on the CEO of Wollongong Coal, Milind Oza, to look after local workers retrenched by the company.


It has been reported this week that 80 workers are to be laid off, a decision that Wollongong Coal blames on a six year delay in approval to mine extra coal at Russell Vale Colliery.


Ms Bird and Mr Jones said that the decision on whether to provide such approval to expand operations was solely one for the relevant NSW government planning authorities.


However, the Illawarra MPs believe that should such approval be obtained and the mine reopen in the future, there is a strong community expectation that any retrenched workers from the mine would be given the first opportunity to fill any job vacancies.


This is the right and fair thing to do for workers who have been told they are no longer needed at a mine that has been moved into care and maintenance mode. The workers stood with the company in its hard times and deserve a commitment on future opportunities for employment if the mine re-opens.


In addition to the Wollongong Coal announcement 500 jobs are set to be axed from the Port Kembla steelworks and the local community is understandably anxious about the economic security of the region.


Everything must be done to ensure that local workers are given a helping hand, including workers retrenched by Wollongong Coal.